Review #16 Argo

Directed by- Ben Affleck

Starring- Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman

Before you read this, cleanse your mind of everything you know and feel about Ben Affleck.

This is possibly his best film to date (I’ve never seen the Town though so I may stand corrected).  Based on a true story during the Iranian Revolution, the American Embassy is stormed, but seven workers escape and are allowed to stay with the brave Canadian Ambassador. The CIA have to liaise with the Canadian Secret Service to try and get the seven safely out of Iran, and after quite a few risky and awful suggestions, Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) comes up with the idea that they could be a Canadian film crew looking to shoot a science fiction movie in Iran.

It starts off uniquely for a fairly serious movie by telling the story of the Iranian Revolution through a graphic novel- a nice touch and makes the background of it interesting to those who might not be so historically inclined. To be honest the movie is a little slow, but I think that’s the point. I found All the President’s Men quite slow which is a similar 70s style political drama (about Watergate- I’d recommend it for those of you who are interested in politics), but when you think about it, there’s not really that much that Affleck could have cut.

The best scenes are with John Goodman and Alan Arkin as John Chambers and Lester Siegel respectively. In order to make the cover story realistic, Mendez has to fly out to LA and make the movie look like it’s actually taking place- this includes finding a script, art director, having script readings etc., and he recruits Chambers and Siegel to help him make the dream a cover-story reality. Goodman and Arkin provide great comic relief to a somewhat serious film, but despite this it doesn’t detract from their understanding of how realistic Argo must appear to the outside world.

I have reservations about Ben Affleck. As in- I don’t like him. I still don’t really like him. But this movie made me respect him, the acting is commendable, and Istanbul makes a very convincing Tehran.

There are some doubts about how accurate the film is, for instance at the beginning with the graphic novel there are some wrong dates given when listing the Ayatollah’s coming to power/escape. However, at the end it explains what happened to everyone, and to my surprise the details of the hostage rescue were only de-classified and released under Bill Clinton in 1997. Who knew?!

Sophisticated. Surprisingly feel-good- but most importantly, based on actual events. Bravo Ben. Four stars.